For a number of months, hundreds of Indigenous nations and non-Indigenous allies have been coming together to support the efforts of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as they oppose Energy Transfer Partners’ construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Brave water protectors and allies have been facing militarized police head on to protect the lands and waters from further destruction and pollution from an oil spill.
DAPL plays into a pattern of deeply colonial behaviour on the part of resource extraction companies, consistently violating Indigenous rights declarations and reform proposals with every new pipeline project.
For example, The 92nd Call to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report states:
We call upon the corporate sector in Canada to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a reconciliation framework and to apply its principles, norms, and standards to corporate policy and core operational activities involving Indigenous peoples and their lands and resources. This would include, but not be limited to, the following:
i. Commit to meaningful consultation, building respectful relationships, and obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous peoples before proceeding with economic development projects.
The TRC report reinforces UNDRIP, the de facto statement on Indigenous rights globally:
Article 26.1 enshrines Indigenous peoples’ rights “to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.”
Furthermore, Article 32.2 very clearly states that “States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.”
With a Canadian government completely unwilling to meaningfully support the TRC or UNDRIP, banks such as RBC, TD and Scotiabank are able to freely support companies that trample on the rights of Indigenous people across Turtle Island (North America). Nearly every one of the projects (including DAPL as well as the recently-approved TransMountain and Line 3 pipelines) referenced in the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, signed by over 89 First Nations across Turtle Island, has investments from these banks and others.
Now that you have the necessary background info, please read our short breakdown of how Canadian banks are fueling the situation in Standing Rock, and what to do about it:
Building a pipeline costs a lot of money. Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) and its affiliate Sunoco, the companies building Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have raised $3.75 billion of credit for the project from over 20 different banks. Several Canadian banks are involved in funding these companies:
RBC ($340mil in credit to both companies);
HSBC ($189mil in credit to both companies);
Scotiabank ($100mil in credit to one company);
TD ($365mil investment split between credit to one company and direct financing of DAPL).
This material support of ETP is crucial to the construction of DAPL, a project which has routinely violated the treaty right and human rights of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The loss of support from these banks would represent a huge blow to a project that is already on thin ice - not only is there unprecedented resistance to the project from water protectors, who have millions of supporters nationally and globally, but on January 1st many oil companies may cancel their contracts to ship oil through the pipeline, due to the the fall in productivity of the Bakken oil fields.
While this petition is focused on DAPL, funding of pipeline companies is almost universal across major Canadian banks. Funding data for TransCanada (Energy East, Keystone XL) and Kinder Morgan (TransMountain) obtained by the Manitoba Energy Justice Coalition reveals that some of their top investors include the four banks mentioned above, as well as BMO, CIBC and CDPQ. This is why it is crucial that this conversation does not stop at DAPL, and that customers consider moving their money out of these big banks and into local credit unions or other community financial institutions.
Right now is a crucial time for banks to withdraw their funding from DAPL. The completion of this pipeline project would be a massive violation of the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux, continuing a genocidal process that has been ongoing for centuries. In a time when the Canadian public is acknowledging a history of colonialism and genocide and moving towards a climate of truth and reconciliation, it is unconscionable that the largest financial institutions in our society are providing support to this destructive and immoral project, without the consent or approval of their customers.
We are certain that most customers would not agree to have the money they have entrusted to these banks to be used to fund treaty & human rights violations. This is why we are calling on TD, RBC, Scotiabank & HSBC to follow the example set by DNB, the largest bank in Norway, and divest from Energy Transfer Partners, Sunoco & the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Until these banks take this important step, we encourage their customers to move their money elsewhere. Many of us across the country have already done this, unwilling to continue to be complicit in the financing of DAPL and the other pipeline projects with which these banks are involved.